Not many NFL players had a worse opening week of the 2013 season than running back David Wilson of the New York Giants, but don't expect his fantasy football value to be drastically impacted by the meltdown.
The talented second-year pro had seven carries for a lethargic 19 yards in the Giants loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night, but those stats don't do justice to his struggles.
It was his two lost fumbles that earned him a spot on the bench and created pits in the stomachs of fantasy general managers who drafted Wilson high in the hopes that he'd excel as the Giants' No. 1 back.
New York head coach Tom Coughlin is notorious for having a bone to pick with fumblers, as evident by his deteriorated relationship (via ESPN) with Tiki Barber and repeated statements as early as this preseason (via New York Daily News) about how he feels on the subject.
So the big question for Wilson's fantasy owners remains this: will he even get another chance to prove himself worthy of being the Giants' No. 1 back and a legitimate fantasy option?
Absolutely—if Coughlin's remarks are any indication. Following his team's six-turnover debacle, Coughlin made it clear that he is determined on fixing the former first-round pick's issues, per Evan Silva of Rotoworld:
Coughlin on David Wilson: "He's got to play ... We will get him right even if he has to run around the field with two balls. We need him!"— Evan Silva (@evansilva) September 9, 2013
Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today reports that quarterback Eli Manning is also looking for his teammate to contribute, saying there's really no option for Wilson—he has to get back up and get ready to perform.
"That is just not an option," Manning said. "He's going to have to play for us, and play well."
With how much the Giants need him, Wilson shouldn't be quickly traded in fantasy leagues. While he may not pan out to be a top-15 option across the league, he's still worth starting in most leagues and should be treated as a starter in the trade market.
However, while it saw signs of improvement, Wilson's rookie season might leave Coughlin having second thoughts. The running back fumbled in his NFL debut and was benched as a result, and he never really got going after that point, finishing 2012 with just 358 yards.
Ayy to fantasy participants and pissed Giants fans ur irrelevant to me!!! Nobody wants me to succeed more than ME!!! WATCH US WORK!— David E. Wilson (@4stillRunning) September 10, 2013
NFL.com's Dan Hanzus reports that the Giants recently brought back Brandon Jacobs to help fortify the position, but the 31-year-old likely doesn't have enough in the tank to be a No. 1 option and will be more of an insurance blanket in case Week 1 happens again.
Plus, with Andre Brown on the short-term injured reserve list after breaking his leg in the preseason and Da'Rel Scott (16 career carries with five coming Sunday) as the only option other than Jacobs, Wilson should be getting the bulk of the carries regardless of his Week 1 shortcomings.
This year, like Coughlin said above, they simply need Wilson. And even Barber admitted in his book that, despite the rocky relationship with his former coach, Coughlin did help him his own fumbling issues.
To think that the Giants would give up on Wilson and his potential because of one bad game—especially after drafting him in the first round a year ago—is an overreaction.
With a depleted backfield, the Giants need for Wilson to show the promise he flashed last season. Any such glimpses should be enough to keep Wilson as a No. 2 running back in big fantasy leagues and a flex option in smaller leagues.
While Wilson might break out should he receive more carries and playing time, don't bank on him coming back from this to be an elite fantasy RB. But regardless, if he stays as the No. 1 back in New York, he's worth starting most weeks.
Trading Wilson is a tough gimmick this early in the season, especially after an opening week that could turn out to be very misleading. If an owner in your league is ready to part ways with him for a reserve wideout, take it. But don't overreact and sell him for less than what a No. 2/flex back is worth.
As long as Wilson is still getting the most carries out of the Giants backfield, the chances are there for him to become a can't-miss fantasy player.